I learned the correct term “Narcissist” some months ago. It was like the clouds that were in my eyes just vanished, and the answers to the questions I could never formulate appeared in front of me.
In very simple terms, we can list some characteristics of the narcissistic mother (NM), such as: lack of empathy towards her own children, constant emotional abuse, manipulation, and gaslighting (which we will talk about below). For the NM, guilt is always a weapon; many also use smear campaigns, and some are control freaks.
This is a little part of my history:
When I was a child, my mother would say that she should be in bed and “you should be doing all the cleaning and cooking!” She really meant it; she looked tired, fed up, and frustrated… but I was only seven years old.
When I was in middle school, around 12/13 years old, words like: animal, dumb, mean, ridiculous, and her favorite: abusive, were part of my daily life. I had learned them by heart, so no wonder I started to develop severe anxiety and depression.
I remember being 17 years old, in high school, and wanting to die (I was so controlled that I couldn’t even go out, and I relate the events in my life with the grade I was in at school). I thought about getting some pills, and the only thing that stopped me was this thought: “What if I survived?” She would never forgive me, and would tell me how abusive I am for hurting her this way! That gave me goosebumps.
So, instead, I tried my best to change in order to be a better daughter. I basically grew up in redemption mode.
But no matter what I did, I was always mean. No matter how obvious the mistake was, she would say I totally calculated it to make her feel bad. No matter how hard I tried, if I failed, which was expected, I was dumb. I was twice chosen to be the queen of my high school, to which she said: “They chose you because it’s a lot of work, they chose the dumbest.”
Then there was…
Gaslighting is a very common thing among narcissists. This is basically throwing the stone and hiding the arm, and then saying that the stone never existed. She would call me the worst things imaginable, and when I dared to confront her, she would say she had no idea what I was talking about.
Many times she even blamed me for being abusive for thinking such things about her, “a perfect being” (her unspoken words).
Like, if she read this, she would be totally shocked, since none of it EVER happened. I’m making it up because I’m really mean.
The “Woe Is Me” Act
I know now it is just an attention-seeking tantrum, but when I was seven, and ten, and 13, and 19, and 23, and 25, I was totally sure she was the embodiment of suffering. She said things like: “One of these days I’m going to die,” “I want to run and never come back,” “I want to jump from a mountain,” “Don’t you dare cry when I die, you have been so mean to me.”
It was not these words that hurt the most, but her tone, her tired breathing, her kicking, her inability to self-control (not that she was trying), her moaning.
It was really shocking for a child or a teenager to see and hear that, and even in my early 20’s, it would break me.
Yes, I really thought my mom would die if I went to that party, or if I had a boyfriend, or if traveled to another city.
I moved, but the voice remained. I hear her voice every single day, every single second. I stopped having dreams because I knew she wouldn’t approve of them, and if she didn’t approve of them, it would mean I shouldn’t pursue them because that made me a bad daughter. And I just couldn’t take it.
One time I was having this common attack of thoughts that run and crash at a very high speed. I feel too much, I get confused, it’s like many “voices” talking at the same time; not real voices, but the noise is too high.
So I went on Amazon and typed “controlling parents” into the search, and there was the book that would become my first book into recovery. In If You Had Controlling Parents*, Dr. Dan Neuharth explains the effects of having a narcissistic parent, and how to deal with them.
He also gives their side of the story, how much they have suffered too, since many had traumatic experiences as children. He offers ideas about how to have a healthy life in case you stay with them, and if you decide to go no contact.
The feeling of validation was huge, and my curiosity became hungry after this initial discovery. I learned that those parts of myself that were hurt and damaged will remain with me like children who live inside me, and my job is to make them feel loved; to give them the love they never received.
And I am working on them. It is not easy at all, but stopping is not an option. If you are also a daughter (or son) of a NM, I’m going to give you some advice; things that helped me to feel less responsible for my mom’s health, and to see myself as an average human being, not as a monster. These things may be obvious to the rest of the world, but they are not for people like us:
You are innocent. Your mother may have blamed you for practically every single thing that she could think of: her health, her wellbeing, her suffering. You were responsible for everything, so you always lived in a state of alert. “What’s next? What did I do wrong this time?” No matter if you had stayed the whole day in your room, she would always find something because that’s what they do, they find you guilty so they can be innocent.
It’s an endless war. Truth is: there is nothing intrinsically wrong with you. The only rotten thing is your mother’s perspective.
You were the one that needed protection. Maybe your mom, like mine, gave you the role of the mother, and she was the always unsatisfied child who was constantly hurt. But in reality, it was the other way around. She was supposed to be the one who took care of you; it was you who needed her to love you, and guide you, and nurture you.
Work on the hurt parts of yourself, do not reject them. Many people and authors teach us to dismiss those parts of ourselves that don’t allow us to keep walking. The thing is, these are parts of ourselves – parts of our childhood – that need to be recognized.
Listen to them, understand them, and love them. You don’t have to act on them or believe what they say. Remember, they will only talk about the information they received, but now you know what really happened, so you can take care of yourself.
Don’t ever think you are what she said you were; she couldn’t see anything else. As Kelly Clarkson says: “You just saw your pain,” and many of them are also hurt. But this doesn’t mean you have to succumb to the wicked game they play; the game of making you the target.
*this is an affiliate link – if you purchase this book, I will receive a small commission. This in no way alters the independent recommendation of this guest author.